- Creative Research
Charles A. Toro
In our current society, grief is still a difficult topic to discuss. However, this was not always the case. We used to build all kinds of traditions and symbols around dead and loss. This led to visibility in the area and shared commitment that benefited the grieving process. We barely see that nowadays.
Grief is kept as much as possible out of sight and the conversation is thereby avoided. The predominant culture is also particularly focused on quickly resuming ourselves and continuing straight away. This tendency impacts the mental health of the grieving person and can cause severe problems in the form of recurring symptoms, including burnouts and / or acute depression.
To prevent social dropouts in the near future, it is important that we make mourning more discussable and that more attention is paid to the loss suffered.
‘Een Teken van Rouw’ (A Sign of Mourning) is an interchangeable mourning emblem that reveals the loss and needs of the grieving person and serves as a tool to make the conversation easier.
It consists of interchangeable colour elements which provide a personal support with a subtle signal function to the environment. This gives bystanders a signal on how they can best support the grieving person at that moment, without missing the mark.
‘Een Teken van Rouw ‘(A sign of mourning)’ is the result of the graduation research by Gino Bodt. The trigger was the death of his mother, six years ago. An event that is still clearly on his mind. He noticed that there was often a tense and charged atmosphere when he wanted to bring up his grief.
In order to spare the other person in his or her discomfort, Gino avoided his emotions, causing him to move away from it. This clearly affected his grieving process and mental health. Even today he notices that this topic is a barrier in communication and is not openly discussed.
His literature research has shown that grief used to be more obvious and involvement from others a major role plays in shaping grief and sharing emotions.
Visibility is therefore a first step in making mourning more open to discussion again today and in this way better supporting the grieving person. In order to give grief a more visible place, Gino prototyped a number of conversation attributes to enter into a dialogue with the public.
The insights that emerged from these conversations showed that the sharing of experiences by relatives is perceived as helping. It provided a framework for them to tell their story and be able to have their say. This already indicates how great the need is, but it also became clear that resources are needed to facilitate that conversation. It had to be something discreet; what you can carry with you; but can also take off or possibly adjust. These findings eventually led to ‘A Sign of Mourning’.
In the search for the correct shape, inspiration was found in the former black ‘mourning rhombus’, which was attached to the clothing as a replacement for the mourning band. That visibility and recognition of the past has been incorporated into the design in a contemporary way. The black square in the middle serves as a point of recognition for the grieving person and the embrace of the outer element serves as a signal function to others.
© Gino Bodt 2020